ST. GEORGE — To assess the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Washington County residents, the “Live Long. Live Well.” initiative has expanded their study, and all residents 18 years and older are encouraged to take a survey.
The survey is part of a larger study designed to gauge the health and wellness needs of Southern Utah residents. The initiative represents a partnership between Dixie State University, DSU’s Institute for Continued Learning, the City of St. George and Intermountain Healthcare and was originally launched in November, during which time Washington County was experiencing more prosperous times.
Its intent is to build a bridge of communication between the community and healthcare providers and others to improve the overall wellness and longevity of residents.
While that intention has not changed, the study will now also look at how a pandemic affects a community.
Nancy Hauck, associate provost of community and global engagement at Dixie State, as well as the lead researcher on the study, told St. George News that while they never expected a pandemic to hit during their survey, the timing has allowed the opportunity to collect and analyze unprecedented data about the impacts of the coronavirus on the community.
In order to do this, researchers are asking all residents over 18 to take the survey, which asks questions related to social, emotional, physical and mental well-being.
Researchers hope to obtain at least 1,500 respondents – the same number of participants who took the survey before the pandemic – in order to examine changes.
“We can see the immediate impact within the month, before COVID-19 and during,” Hauck said.
One of the ways they will use the data is to look at the surveys that were taken before the pandemic hit and assess what types of resources were expressed as being needed and what resources are needed now.
“We’ll also look at a comparison of the group that’s taking it after that March 12 sudden change in our state and how the data sets compare, where we notice some marked differences,” she said. “That’s where we’ll do some deeper research and publish, looking at the outcome of the impact of this pandemic.”
Another study prompted by the pandemic is a follow-up with about 500 of the original 1500 respondents who took the survey before the pandemic struck. This will allow them to do a parallel examination of research data to show how these people felt before the pandemic and how they felt after, which Hauck said will most likely have changed, whether that has to do with financial security or mental health impacts because of social isolation.
“Somebody in November may have reported they felt safe with their retirement funds and that economic well-being but then not report that now,” she said. “Things drastically changed from then to now.”
Hauck said it’s highly likely they will publish the study in a major magazine or periodical.
Overall, this study will help the “Live Long. Live Well.” program reach its goal to help residents who are 50 and older maximize their health, longevity and well-being by connecting them to relevant programs.
Those who respond to the survey will be entered in the giveaway and have a chance to win a $50 Visa or $100 Apple gift card.
In addition to the survey, the program is offering various resources, including links and articles to help residents through the pandemic, as well as free online classes through the Dixie State University Institute for Continued Learning.
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